OPINION: Big Corporations Need a Green Change

Malvika Mahendhra, Editor-in-Chief

Climate change. Pollution. Water crisis. These are the environmental problems of the modern age that are causing effects that might be beyond repair. While local movements and the government are taking action to fix our environment like hosting clean-ups and banning plastic bags, significant action regarding corporations being more environmentally friendly have not been pursued. Corporations and businesses should have stricter restrictions regarding their pollution and sustainability.

According to The Guardian, about 100 companies have been responsible for 71 percent greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the corporations having the highest emissions are prominent brands you see every day like Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron. While these companies recognize the risks of global food scarcity and animal extinction due to high carbon emissions, corporations lack to take any sustainable action because of the short-term profitability from fossil fuels. These companies hold the majority of carbon emissions, and they should be held responsible for the effects of pollution. Certain actions companies can do to reduce their carbon emissions is to promote more dedication and funds to renewable and sustainable energy. Some corporations have already taken action to reduce their carbon footprint like Ford Motor Company, who has invested 4.5 billion dollars in electric cars.

Corporations are not only the highest contributors to fossil fuel emissions, but also plastic pollution. According to Ecowatch, the biggest companies contributing to plastic pollution are Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle. The rise of plastic in the environment has led to the Great Pacific Garbage, the largest accumulation of ocean plastic between Hawaii and California. The trash vortex is responsible for marine life disturbance like animals becoming entangled in plastic debris and fish ingesting microplastics. Not only does this affect the ocean’s ecosystem, but also humans as well. Scientists are concerned that these microplastics absorb harmful substances like Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and can biomagnify through a food chain. As a result, humans become negatively impacted who have seafood as part of their diet. Companies should be taking action to reduce their excessive plastic packaging in their products to avoid creating a bigger Pacific Garbage Patch or even starting new ones.

Companies are also contaminating the water by allowing their industrial waste to be leaked into groundwater. The most notorious culprits are mining and smelting businesses, whose unsustainable actions are responsible for heavy metals to be contaminating water in almost every state in America. In some extreme cases, individuals have to be relocated because the water is unsafe for consumption and usage. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly 1,000 households rely on bottled water due to metals contaminating their water. Hundreds of companies have been found guilty of improper waste disposal for several decades, yet the problem still exists. This is due to the fact that stricter regulations and laws have not been set in place that restrict heavy metal contamination. While the EPA has allowed up to 94 metals to be present in drinking water, there is no set limit, so companies are free to be negligent of the consequences of improper waste disposal.

The earth needs our help. While certain small steps can be taken by individuals to improve the environment, a major step to moving toward a greener planet must be done by corporations. Actions we can take to hold businesses to a higher environmental standard would be to pressure our legislators in creating stricter laws regarding carbon emissions and industrial waste and avoid buying products who utilize excessive plastic packaging, to force companies to move toward a more sustainable material.